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Confronting poverty and injustice CBF field personnel in Macedonia face challenges, focus on reconciliation

W By Greg Warner

hich is more important? Funding a kindergarten for persecuted children in Macedonia or feeding your family? It’s the kind of choice sometimes faced by Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel who raise their own support to live and minister in a foreign country — while surrounded by overwhelming needs that can’t be met without additional money. Alicia and Jeff Lee, who were commissioned as CBF field personnel in 2011, are partner-funded and rely on churches and individuals to fund their ministry and projects. “We would have had to raise another $50,000,” Alicia said, in order to maintain funding for Future of the Family, the Christian-backed kindergarten that trained and cared for children of ethnic Albanians living in Skopje. The Lees spent their first six months in Macedonia learning the Albanian language in hopes of ministering to the families of kindergarteners, who received medical and food assistance in addition to education. Within a few months of their arrival, however, the kindergarten closed due to lack of

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J U N E / J U LY 2 0 1 4

funding. Supporters would like to reopen it, but recent changes in government regulations will make that much more difficult. “The requirements for space, food service, facilities, teacher-student ratio, etc., would continue to increase, in turn increasing the cost to run the program,” Alicia said. “Raising the additional funding required to run the kindergarten on top of our budget would become increasingly difficult.” “Because of the kindergarten closing, we switched to learning Macedonian,” Alicia said, a quite different but equally difficult language. They also have turned their ministry focus largely to victims of human trafficking, a huge problem in Eastern Europe, and to medical relief, a food bank and an orphanage. The transition and uncertainty with the kindergarten, which has been the centerpiece of CBF’s Macedonia ministry, have made it all the harder for the Lees to raise their own support, say their supporters. “Our church is learning first-hand the difficult task they have in raising funds,” said Butch Pesch, longtime pastor of Priddy Baptist Church in Central Texas. The tiny church has had a huge impact on ministry in Macedonia by funding the kindergarten, beginning in 2006, and now the Lees directly. Early on, the 30-member Priddy Church provided more than half the cost of the Future of the Family kindergarten for an entire year, and a total of $87,000 in the first six years. When church members met the Lees as they prepared to

2014 June/July fellowship!  

2014 June/July fellowship!

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